Bayer CropScience has agreed to pay $75,000 to Massachusetts and change advertising practices to settle a claim that the global chemicals manufacturer misled the public about the safety of its pesticides.
According to a report in Bloomberg BNA, it’s the first time a settlement has been reached targeting false advertising claims related to neonicotinoids.
“Bayer made numerous misleading claims to consumers about the safety of its pesticide products, including falsely advertising that they were similar to giving ‘a daily vitamin’ to plants, when in fact, they are highly toxic to honey bees, other pollinators and species, and the environment,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.
The company, which is a division of Bayer AG, maintained that its advertising about neonicotinoid chemistry was “at all times accurate and transparent,” but said that it wanted to settle the matter to avoid an expensive and lengthy legal battle.
A consumer group called Beyond Pesticides has seized on the outcome, however, and is calling on attorneys general in all 49 other states to pursue similar legal action.
“With neonicotinoid insecticides linked to the increase in pollinator decline, we are writing to urge you, on behalf of our members in your state, to stop misleading and fraudulent advertising of these pesticide products,” the group wrote.
The debate over whether or not neonicotinoids are linked to dwindling bee populations has intensified in the last year.
One study released this summer, for example, concluded that the chemicals could reduce live bee sperm.
In that case, Bayer CropScience said it would review the study but maintained that "artificial exposure to pesticides under lab conditions is not reflective of real-world experience."